Are you getting enough sleep at night? According to the National Sleep Foundation, there is no single magic number for adult women. Quality and quantity both matter when it comes to being well-rested. Seven hours a night is considered about average, but it may not be enough if your sleep isn’t restful.
It’s simple enough to determine if you're getting enough of the right quality of sleep, though, if you evaluate your mood and performance during the day.
If you're alert in the morning and throughout the day, you're sleeping fine. If you find you struggle to be productive or snap at coworkers, you probably aren’t getting enough quality Z's; as lethargy and moodiness are key signs that you're not getting enough sleep.
If you’re dragging through the day, there are three bad sleeping habits that could be affecting your ability to get quality rest.
1. Working in Bed
Do you find yourself checking your email “one last time” before falling asleep or getting online to look for messages when you wake up in the middle of the night? You may think you're maximizing down time, but you're actually preventing your mind and body from resting. As long as you're working in bed, you're not sleeping.
Break this habit by reserving your bedroom for sleeping and sex only. To do that:
- Ban electronics, kids and pets from your bedroom.
- Store the electronic charging system on a dresser away from bed, not on your nightstand.
- Use an old-fashioned alarm clock instead of your phone to wake up on time.
- Move bills and laundry to another room of your home.
- Journal about problems at work instead of dwelling on them at night.
- Keep a pencil and paper near your bed and write down any bright ideas, concerns or other thoughts that come to mind overnight. Then, peacefully go back to sleep.
2. Eating Close to Bedtime
Your body needs food to function, but if you’re overeating at night because you're too busy during the day, you may not be doing yourself any favors. Do you drink caffeine in the late afternoon or early evening hours so that you can stay awake and run the car pool, help with homework and corral everyone to bed? If so, you're practicing bad sleeping habits.
Large meals, spicy foods, and caffeine at night put your body on high alert and can cause indigestion or heartburn that keeps you awake.
The Cleveland Clinic suggests you limit heavy meals at night and go to bed at least three hours after your final meal of the day. Likewise, if you’re a fan of spicy food, you may want to feed your habit at lunchtime. And to get your late afternoon energy fix, sip on decaf coffee, ice water or freshly brewed herbal tea instead of an espresso.
3. Using Screen Time to Unwind
After you bathe your kids and read to them, do you sit in front of the TV, computer or e-reader and veg? That screen time may seem relaxing, especially since it may be the only time you get to sit down all day. However, the glowing screens of your electronic devices delay your evening dose of melatonin and wake up your brain, reports Mariana Figueiro, director of the Light and Health Program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Turn off all screens at least an hour before you're ready to sleep. Use that time to prepare your brain and body to rest and get a good night's sleep. An evening routine like meditation, a warm shower and a good book, however, can help you relax.
What bad sleeping habits keep you from getting enough sleep? Identifying them and planning to change those bad habits can mean the difference between performing at your best and feeling groggy the next day. With good sleep habits, you're ready to fluff your down pillow, snuggle up in your comforters, sheets and prepare to enjoy quality sleep all night long!